Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thinking on Adoption Ethics

Things are all in an uproar over the "E" word... ethics.
There has been some good and hard things being said "out there" recently... (and I am not even on Facebook any more!)

I have, by in large, really enjoyed hearing many people's stances and thoughts on this very heated subject. But, sometimes it is really wrankling... on both sides of the ring!

I am going to be totally honest here.

I don't like to be a fence sitter, but in this topic, I am. Mainly because I can't find a spot on either side that really fits my personal observations, experiences and thoughts.  Both sides make me uncomfortable... there I said it!

When I wrote my story about Ezra it wasn't to shame people for adopting a child with known family... and yes, I did get several emails and messages that stated something to that effect. Sadly. I think some missed the point.

I wrote it because in Ezra's case his FAMILY needed advocacy... not adoption... to solve the issues they were dealing with. My point was that we need to deal rightly/justly with all children we are referred or come in contact with and to ensure that International Adoption remains the last resort for children in poverty. Why make it an unnecessary first action, (like it would have been for Ezra)? Too often that's what's being done in International Adoption. Wonderful things like sponsorship/family preservation and even domestic adoption should be sought out... not because IA is "bad" but because it is clearly in the child's best interest to explore those other options first! International adoption should not be considered bad, evil or inherently unethical. Nor should IA be considered the best choice, the first alternative and based upon adoptive families wants or desires.

“Adoption is acceptable when appropriate for the child,
not when it is the desire of the adoptive family.”
- Bert Ballard

The 2 Stances
But, here is what I am seeing... there are often two stances... somewhat polar in their views that keep coming to fight it out in the ring of adoption/ethical issues.  I am personally drawn to both sides of the argument and recently I was wondering why that was true. I questioned... "Could both be right... at least in part?" It was then I realized that the loudest people are often those most entrenched in their stance and that both stances at times (in their most extreme positions) seem to forget one main thing.

The child.

Extreme stances naturally tend to leave out the most important part. Both enter the ring caring about the child and then seem to lose sight of the real reason they entered it and tend to focus on lesser things.
That is sad.

I have seen first hand that the "pro-adoption" side is very guilty of throwing in the towel and calling it "all good" because at least the child was adopted and now has a family, despite the fact that they may have already had a bio family who could have been capable of being a solution with a modicum of help. No real solution there because justice is not upheld or ensured for child and family.

Similarly, the "anti-adoption"side tends to throw out the baby (with the ethical bathwater) and call it "all good" because, at least, a potentially unethical adoption was avoided, despite the fact that many children have NO other option but adoption (domestic or international). Again, no real solutions because personal justice for the child wasn't provided.

When we fail to take the needs of the ONE into account we both fail, it doesn't matter what side of the ring we are on and how much we think we are right on our side.

Lets not forget that ethics need to be ethics centered on the child... their right to a family... and not to languish in an institutionalized setting. Family is always in the best interest of the child.

Lets not forget that adoption needs to be adoption centered on the child... one that upholds and supports their bio family at high costs, seeks to place them with a domestic family first and leaves International Adoption as a last resort. Family in this order is in the child's best interest.

Ethics and adoption are not in opposition to each other.
In fact, they are partners in upholding the justice of the child.

When both are combined where do we end up?
Sort of in the middle... together. 

Give Grace
When we make our position about not being against something but for something it helps others be more open minded about our stance. It is like pointing to the solution instead of pointing at a person and blaming.

This whole topic and participation in helping others (of any kind) is really really difficult with an extremely steep learning curve. Grace needs to be extended to all involved: adopters, adoptees, those working in the field of family preservation or domestic programs in various nations. We are all learning and changing our views. I am not who I was 3 or 4 years ago, pre-adoption. We must give grace, be patient with those who are less informed or still undecided on this issue. We must simply do our best to uphold the Gospel and justice and to gently help others understand what is at stake... the child's rights to justice and family. Forget the differing methods to accomplish this, those are disputable matters (Romans 14:1 "As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.")
Remember the child and help others to too!

As I was thinking about ethics recently I took some of my more raw thoughts to my husband who helps me make sense of all the non-sense. One thing he said stuck with me, he said...

"Marce, remember way back when, when we first wanted to adopt? What was the main things you and I both thought about the most? It was, children belong in families. I don't think adoption solves that problem for all kids, because they may already have a family, but for some it clearly is a very good solution! I don't think I have ever been an 'adoption advocate'... I just believe in families."

Heck yeah! I am married to that man! He is so spot on it makes me want to punch the air.

I end with this... My stance.
I believe in families!
Will you join me?

A double orphan... living in a "slum"... being raised by biological family!
Adoption not needed.

God's glory on display!


Erika Johnson said...

This was probably the best post I have read on ethics! Great job!

Cyndy said...

I wish we had had a little more time together on the other side of the planet...thank you for putting this "issue" into perspective. It never solves anything if we are always polarized one way or the other.